Analysis of the Effect of the Size and Grade of Soft Tissue Sarcoma on Rates of Unplanned Resection, Metastatic Disease, Mortality, and Morbid Re-Resection Over 20 Years

Orthopedics. 2021 May-Jun;44(3):166-171. doi: 10.3928/01477447-20210104-05. Epub 2021 Jan 8.


Soft tissue sarcomas are rare malignancies that are often presumed to be benign and are resected without the typical preoperative workup, such as imaging or biopsy. These unplanned resections occur in approximately 30% of all cases and frequently require further morbid treatments, resulting in worse oncologic outcomes. A retrospective review was performed of all patients who presented to a tertiary sarcoma center with a diagnosis of sarcoma between 1996 and 2017. In-depth chart reviews were performed for the 2600 patients who were identified, with 836 having a primary diagnosis of soft tissue sarcoma in an upper or lower extremity. Data collected included histologic features, grade, size, resection status, demographic features, referral information, metastatic disease, morbid procedures, and mortality rate. Patients were divided into 2 groups based on whether the tumor size was greater or less than 5 cm. This classification was in keeping with the guideline of referring patients to a tertiary sarcoma center for workup for tumors "larger than a golf ball." The difference in the rate of unplanned resection for tumors measuring less than 5 cm (41.6%) and those measuring 5 cm or greater (18.8%) was statistically significant (P<.001), with smaller tumors more likely to undergo unplanned resection, in keeping with the success of the "golf ball rule." The rate of metastatic disease for unplanned resection for tumors measuring 5 cm or greater (50.7%) was significantly greater than that for tumors measuring less than 5 cm (19.7%) (P<.001). The authors found a great deal of morbidity associated with unplanned resection, regardless of tumor size. Before resection is planned, delineation is required beyond tumor size. [Orthopedics. 2021;44(3):166-171.].

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Reoperation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sarcoma / mortality
  • Sarcoma / pathology*
  • Sarcoma / surgery*